Jordan slams Israeli plan to build 3,500 new settlements in occupied West Bank

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Jordan condemned Israel’s plan to build 3,500 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem, the country’s foreign ministry said.

The ministry on Wednesday issued a statement calling the Israeli government’s plans illegal measures aimed at changing the existing historical and legal status in the region, violating international law and undermining peace efforts.

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An Israeli settlement-planning body has advanced permits for 3,500 new homes in West Bank settlements near Jerusalem, according to statements by Israeli ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Orit Strock.

The homes are expected to be built in the Israeli settlements of Maale Adumim, Kedar, and Efrat, which are all close to Jerusalem, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, said the new planned settlements will add to a record number of 18,515 homes approved for the occupied West Bank.

“The enemies try to harm and weaken us, but we will continue to build and be built up in this land,” he wrote on X, formerly twitter, on Wednesday.

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Most world powers deem settlements illegal but Israel disputes that citing historical claims to the occupied West Bank and describing it as a security bulwark.

Settlers are Israeli citizens who live on private Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The majority of the settlements have been built either entirely or partially on private Palestinian land.

More than 700,000 settlers – 10 percent of Israel’s nearly 7 million population – now live in 150 settlements and 128 outposts dotting the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government has promoted the settlements, causing friction with one of the country’s key allies, the United States, who is Tel Aviv’s biggest backer in its ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza.

On February 24, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington deemed West Bank settlements inconsistent with international law, reverting to a US position that had been overturned by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

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